Friday, May 27, 2016

On Being Controversial

To look at me, you'll see a pretty friendly looking, mother of three great kids, student and happy go lucky person. I have a nice house on a quiet suburban street, I have a great partner, lots of friends, nice family, pets, a flower garden. Additionally, a strong student (so long as there is no math involved), will go out of my way to help others, will pick up a $20 bill at a sports arena and find it's owner instead of putting it towards overpriced concessions, overall a nice person. You wouldn't be wrong, but I'm also a bisexual woman who has mixed ancestry of black, native and white. I'm also a feminist...and a socialist, I'm divorced (I don't hate men, I quite like the smart ones) somewhere in between "regular sized" and "plus sized", I have funky hair and a big mouth.
This puts me in an awkward position as a Canadian woman. Canadians in general do not like to talk about racism, sexism, Islamophobia, transphobia...well basically that doesn't paint us in the rosy light where we accept everyone and no one is racist, we are so beyond that! We have multiculturalism in our constitution and we were part of the Underground Railroad *chest all puffy*. White Canadians especially do not want to talk about these topics because they are uncomfortable for them a lot of the time. I can get it to a degree. I have no disability, I am cisgender, I am light skinned and have "good hair" and there have been times I've been asked to examine my privilege or make changes that feel different to me or that I was inadvertently being oppressive, it's not a good place, however sometimes shit just has to be said.
I have white friends and family and as I've become more vocal in examining race and racism in a Canadian context, my Facebook friends list has been decreasing in numbers as far as those white friends and family are concerned. Or they write to me "Why do you have to be so controversial?" or "Why are you so angry??" They wield angry around like it's supposed to be a kill switch "maybe if I call her angry, she'll stop" after all, who wants to be the angry sensitive person of colour. But the fact of the matter is, I am angry, I have this overwhelming urge right now as a Canadian to apologize for this, but no, it's okay to be angry.
Things are not okay. Things are in bad shape even in this day and age. Even in Canada.
We have police forces who routinely target black males for carding, they also routinely target Indigenous males for harassment. They won't release race based statistics on who they are arresting, or killing and that makes me wonder why.
We have people living in reservations with no clean drinking water, for reals. Come on, really? It's not like we have a lack of water. The government has no money to provide proper infrastructure? Or they have no say when an industry decides to pollute the water upstream?
We have children who are targeted by security agencies whilst flying as terrorists. Someone told me it was the price we had to pay for freedom. I don't know about other people, but I don't consider screening six year old children freedom, nor do I feel safer in the air.
I can go on for decades, hence the point of this blog, so I have to pace myself.
Oh Joy, but it's not all white people. You would be right. It's not. I have plenty of friends who are there fighting the good fight, some expected as they are deep into social justice, there are those who are simply going through life, look at a crappy situation and say that's not cool and then there are those who insist the status quo is just skippy. But here is the deal, you don't have to actively be holding a burning cross or making caricatures to be participating in this awful system. When you dismiss someone as too angry, when you say "pulling the race card", when you justify shitty race based experiences that people of colour are talking about, when you railroad that discussion by saying "not all white people, I'm not like that", you aren't helping any. Because what you really want to say is "not me!!!" and by jumping into that discussion and saying "not me!" you are trying to change an important discourse and make it about your feelings, not cool. And what really pisses me off is the entitlement behind that.
So friends, family, Canada, I'm sorry (no I'm not, just trying to be Canadian) I'm angry about this. I'm still the same person, however this is a topic near and dear to me because it's my very identity and that of many people whom I love, and we are being targeted because of it. You may see things you disagree with and by all means, engage me, I'll be civil, but I will be passionate, and I'm asking you to suck it up if you do. I'm going to break free from the non-controversial mode and start pushing these topics, they need to be pushed and I'm not afraid of being labeled angry or sensitive or playing the race card because those are pretty pathetic ways to shut me up and if you ask my mother, there is no shutting me up, I personally blame her parenting for that problem.
I've noticed we are entering a new era where people are connecting on these issues and forcing these topics to the table and by golly, I want to help, so fair warning, welcome to my blog, beware of controversy.

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